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Conflicting messages leave Palestinian workers outside Israel jobless

Conflicting messages from Israeli authorities cause tens of thousands of Palestinian laborers to be stuck in the West Bank, unable to reenter Israel for work.
This picture taken from the Israeli side of the Mitar checkpoint on September 17, 2020 shows Palestinian workers crossing out of Israel a day ahead of Rosh-Hashana (the Jewish New Year) and of a nationwide lockdown aimed at curbing a spike of coronavirus cases. - Israel has the world's second-highest virus infection rate after Bahrain, according to an AFP tally over the past fortnight, and on September 18 it is set to be the first country to impose a second lockdown. (Photo by HAZEM BADER / AFP) (Photo by H

There is a strange reason why work has ground to a halt on hundreds of construction sites, fields and greenhouses all across Israel. On Friday Feb. 5, tens of thousands of Palestinian laborers returned to their homes in the West Bank for the weekend. They have since been prevented from returning to work because of the closure order. This has a devastating impact on the work and salaries of countless Palestinians and their families; the money that they earn in Israel is an essential part of the Palestinian economy, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.

A total of some 45,000 Palestinian laborers — out of a total 80,000 with regular work permits — have been living within the Green Line since the current closure was first imposed in January, as a result of a spike in coronavirus cases. According to the Health Ministry, although there has been a high rate of vaccination in Israel, there has nevertheless been a spike in infections, due to new mutations of the virus from Britain and South Africa.

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